My wife and I are involved in a church plant in our small town, and we just launched the children’s ministry. The first week’s lesson was focused on Jesus’ ability and power to help us with any problem.
During our discussion time, I asked the small group of boys about problems they faced at school. They all replied that they had none. No problems with teachers, classmates, or schoolwork. They said, there were no problems of any kind.
Then I asked about the problems they faced at home. I got the same reply—none—no problems with parents, siblings, or any other category. I knew that this wasn’t true, but they did not feel comfortable talking about their problems with me.
There were three reasons.
First, they are accustomed to a school model where right and wrong answers are crucial. Second, they were not comfortable talking freely with an adult leader. Third, they did not know me very well yet and therefore, were hesitant to be open and honest.
Creating a relational environment where children can say what they really think is crucial for transformational children’s ministry. I see a relational environment beginning to develop in our group and it is awesome, but more time is needed.
A discussion of the Truth in a Bible lesson gives children the opportunity to talk about that Bible truth and how it can be integrated into the realities of life. This is exactly what is going on in Exodus 3-4. The teacher is God, and the student is Moses!
The God Who Discusses
We have been looking at this passage over the last three weeks and this week we are focusing on God’s “discussion” with Moses.
God has revealed the truth to Moses as we noted last week regarding the unacceptable situation facing the Israelites in Egypt and God’s plan to uses Moses to change the situation. Moses responds to that truth with a series of questions and concerns.
Those are as follows:
"But Moses said to God, 'Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" (Exodus 3:11 NIV)
"Moses said to God, 'Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, "The God of your fathers has sent me to you," and they ask me, "What is his name?" Then what shall I tell them?'" (Exodus 3:13 NIV)
"But suppose they do not believe me or listen to me, but say, 'The LORD did not appear to you.'" (Exodus 4:1)
"But Moses said to the LORD, 'O my Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.' Then the LORD said to him, 'Who gives speech to mortals? Who makes them mute or deaf, seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to speak.' But he said, 'O my Lord, please send someone else.'" (Exodus 4:11-13)
Our purpose is not to examine the questions and answers but rather to take note of how God carries on a discussion with Moses.
Reading the passage, you must be amazed that the God of the Universe would interact with Moses as He does. He accepts and addresses questions and does not tell Moses, “Because I said so.”
God does not stifle Moses. It really is amazing, and instructive.
We notice three characteristics of God’s actions.
1. God Listens to Moses
He is a listener and listens to each of Moses’ questions. He is not dismissive but appears to be sympathetic to Moses’ concerns.
We have already noted God’s relational approach which is closely associated with being a good listener.
2. God Addresses Each of Moses' Questions
God addresses each of Moses’ questions, comments, and concerns. He does not answer every question directly.
For example, the question in Exodus 3:11 is not answered directly, but instead, God replies in a manner that reflects Moses’ real fear.
Moses asks God about his qualifications for the job. God assures him, not about his qualifications, but rather about His ongoing presence with the “I will be with you” affirmation.
3. God Explains How The Truth He Reveals Will Work Out In Practical Terms
Finally, God is explaining how the truth He has just revealed will work out in practical terms.
There will be resistance from the Egyptians. Moses will experience doubt and fear. The Israelite leaders will need to be won over. Moses’ speaking skills may be lacking, but Aaron can help, etc.
However, God is steering the discussion towards the response--namely Moses’ acceptance of the call.
These are three great qualities for a children’s ministry leader:
- Be a good listener.
- Address children’s questions, concerns, and comments with spiritual wisdom.
- Guide children towards the response that God is seeking.
Today in our children’s ministry world many churches have adopted the “fun model” which makes the primary goal “having fun.”
Other churches have chosen the “youth ministry model,” where a speaker (live or video) talks to a large group of children with lots of humor and pizazz. Or churches some still hold on to the “school model” where we tell Bible stories, ask right or wrong questions, and memorize a Bible verse. Of course, there are also churches that have adopted a blend of those methodologies.
In contrast to that is this biblical model evidenced in God’s own teaching ministry with Moses. He “discusses” the challenges and concerns that Moses has with the truth of God’s calling.
Moses, the student, is clearly concerned with the real-life implications of what he has just learned from God. God understands those concerns and asks Moses questions and guides Moses, seeking to address the concerns Moses expresses. This is real ministry!!!!!!
God’s Word remains unchanging, but the application of that word today is complicated, challenging, and unique. Children are still called to honor their father and mother in the LORD (Ephesians 6:2).
However, today broken homes and blended families abound. Domestic violence is on the rise. Pornography and internet violence have invaded the home. And American society is trying to redefine what it means to be a mother and father.
In this social cauldron children need a church where they not only hear God’s Word, but they can also “discuss” the integration of that Word into their real lives.
This weekend remember how God Himself led a discussion with Moses. Follow His lead and be a good listener, bring spiritual wisdom to the discussion time and help lead the children to eventually respond to God’s Word in their real life.
You can find out more about leading discussions in your children’s ministry at www.egminstitute.org.